Captain Zodiac Snorkeling and Whale Watch

Captain Zodiac Snorkeling and Whale Watch – Explore the Ocean Wonders Near the Big Island
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Want to see marine life up close while enjoying picturesque views of the Big Island waterfront? Just take a trip with Captain Zodiac Snorkeling and Whale Watch. All their adventures promise to leave you with memories to last a lifetime – and a desire to come back to do it all over again.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

If you want to see interesting marine life up close while enjoying scenic views of the Big Island oceanfront, book a trip with Captain Zodiac Snorkeling and Whale Watch. Their adventures range from peaceful snorkeling excursions to exciting whale-watching tours. Every last one promises to leave you with a lifetime of memories and the photos to match.

To get a chance to go on adventures to remember, you just have to sign up online through their website. You’ll first need to decide between all their adventures, and then choose your preferred date and time. Aim to reserve your spot at least a month in advance, especially during the busy tourist season. Their boat only holds up to 16 passengers per trip, so they tend to maintain a full schedule most of the year.

Once you get signed up, it’s time to prepare for your trip. You’ll want to wear your swimwear under comfortable clothing plus a wide-brimmed sunhat. Sunglasses with UV protection are a good idea, too. The boat does not have any shade, so don’t forget your sunblock either. You’ll need reef-safe SPF 50+ sunblock to protect yourself from sunburn without damaging the ocean ecosystem. If you cannot find the right sunscreen, ask the tour operators, and they’ll sell you a bottle.

All their trips launch from the Kona Marina and then take you down the coast to Kealakekua Bay and beyond. You’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes early to check-in, chat with the captain about what to expect, and then board the boat. You’ll go out on their 24-foot Zodiac Hurricane RHIB watercraft that puts you right on the surface of the water. Their boat is big enough to feel safe and comfortable throughout your tour. But small enough to fit through rock archways, sea cave openings, and so much more.  

The captain and crew will expertly pilot the boat through the ocean water while keeping you safe at all times. On top of that, they’re happy to narrate just what you’re seeing along the way, so you don’t miss out on any amazing sights. They provide all the snorkeling gear you’ll need as well and then provide instructions on how to use it. Not a strong swimmer? They have floatation devices for your use upon request.

Their most popular excursions:

Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling
The Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling trip takes you over to the reefs by the Captain Cook Monument. As a high visibility spot, you’ll get a crystal-clear view of the marine life along the reefs, including sea turtles, tropical fish, and eels. Then, you’ll get to enjoy a picnic lunch before exploring the oceanside even more.

Pelagic Wildlife Excursion
On the Pelagic Wildlife Excursion, you get to search out tons of interesting whale and dolphin species that call the island home. Beyond that, you’ll look for monk seals, sea turtles, sharks, birds, and so much more. A naturalist will accompany your group on the trip, so you can learn interesting facts about every creature you encounter.

Kona Whale Watching Tour
If you’ve always wanted to see humpback whales up close, go on the Kona Whale Watching Tour. Only available in the winter months, this tour lets you see gigantic whales swimming through the ocean waters. You’ll also get to hear their songs through the hydrophone and catch the sunset on your way back to shore. 

You’ll want to put all your keys, wallets, and other valuables in a dry bag while riding in the boat. Although that doesn’t guarantee their protection, it reduces the risk of losing or ruining your items. If you have any valuables you simply cannot afford to lose, leave them in your hotel safe.

Insider Tips:
-Bring cash, so you can tip your captain and crew at the end of your trip.
-Most tours come with lunch, but they do not have any other snacks or refreshments available. You’re welcome to bring a reusable water bottle, however, and fill it up before boarding the boat.